Translation of some typical American words and expressions
• Sir or ma'am. Americans don't use sir or ma'am, at least not in a nice way. If someone is calling you sir or ma'am (as the case may be), they are making an attempt not to call you a jerk. For example, if a waiter says, "I'll be right with you sir", you are being unreasonable, in his opinion. But his position doesn't allow him to say, "I'll be right with you, you jerk", but that's what he means.
• Take your time. This is a phrase that you will hear when you are holding people up, for example in a line at a store. If you hear someone say, "take your time", usually accompanied with a smile and graceful gesture, hurry up, or get out of the way.
• Excuse me. In a crowd, "excuse me" simply means "get out of the way." It also carries with it the implication that you are oblivious to the people around you. So it really means more like "get out of the way, you oblivious moron." If you are offended by "excuse me", as many people are, it just means that you know what it means.
So be careful using these words and expressions. They may sound nice on the surface, but they aren't.
Posted by Brad Hall